Article | International Journal of Happiness and Development | 2013

Does Social Connection Turn Good Deeds into Good Feelings? On the Value of Putting the 'Social' in Prosocial Spending

by Lara B. Aknin, Elizabeth W. Dunn, Gillian M. Sandstrom and Michael I. Norton

Abstract

When are the emotional benefits of generous behavior most likely to emerge? In three studies, we demonstrate that the hedonic benefits of generous spending are most likely when spending promotes positive social connection. Study 1 shows that people feel happier after giving more to charity, but only when they give to someone connected with the cause. Studies 2 and 3 show that the emotional rewards associated with giving to friends or acquaintances are greatest in situations that facilitate social connection. Thus, social connection may be important for turning good deeds into good feelings, and maximizing connectedness between givers and recipients may enhance the emotional payoff of charitable initiatives.

Keywords: happiness; money; prosocial spending; social connection; well-being; donations; charitable giving; warm glow; social relationships; gift giving; Happiness; Relationships; Giving and Philanthropy; Society;

Citation:

Aknin, Lara B., Elizabeth W. Dunn, Gillian M. Sandstrom, and Michael I. Norton. "Does Social Connection Turn Good Deeds into Good Feelings? On the Value of Putting the 'Social' in Prosocial Spending." International Journal of Happiness and Development 1, no. 2 (2013): 155–171.